Anyone with young athletes at home knows how quickly daily schedules fill up. To help kids balance school, sports and fun, Allyson Weldon, PhD, sports psychologist at Akron Children’s Hospital suggests teaching kids time management early so they are better at it as they grow.
“Time management is a hard skill for many people to learn, including adults, because it isn’t necessarily an innate skill everyone has,” said Dr. Weldon. “Helping kids figure out how to break things down into smaller parts, appropriately prioritize and focus on one task at a time are some of the best ways to teach them how to get things done and not feel overwhelmed.”
Dr. Weldon offers 6 tips to help young athletes balance school and sports:
- Build good study/school habits at a young age. Follow a simple routine after school with set blocks of time for snack, homework and playtime. Kids will naturally build on this habit as they grow and more demands are placed on them for academics and sports.
- Plan out assignments. Teach kids how to use a planner, calendar or phone reminders to set times for breaks, assignments, tests and progress checks. These visual queues will help get them in the rhythm of planning ahead to get tasks done.
- Avoid distractions. Help kids figure out what distracts them in their environments and how to avoid them such as putting a phone in another room during study time. Multi-tasking doesn’t allow time for giving any one thing their full or best effort.
- Set time for breaks. Brief breaks after a stretch of focused time are helpful for managing attention and focus to get tasks done. Mental and physical breaks can help kids give their best effort during a set amount of time because they know there’s an end in sight.
- Talk it out. If an athlete can’t dedicate the right amount of time to all tasks at home, school and sports, talk about options that may help. Ideas may include, waking up earlier, reducing hours at practice or taking a break from one or more activities.
- Be honest. Quitting a sport can be an option, but it’s not generally the first option. Encourage the athlete to have an honest conversation with her coach about her struggles. Coaches are often open to helping an athlete find solutions instead of quitting the team.
“To be good with time management, kids need to learn it early and practice it often,” adds Dr. Weldon . “Even when kids aren’t in school they should try to stick to a daily routine so they know how to structure their day or week when school picks back up.”
If your child is struggling to manage activities, talk with her provider about strategies that can help. Click here to find a provider near you.